Hello, anxiety, my old friend. So you’ve come to pay me a visit. Sit down. Have a cup of tea (It’s herbal—neither of us needs any extra caffeine). Will you be staying long?
Life is full right now. My head is full. Too much to think about, work is nutty, lists swirl in my head like dust devils, and there just aren’t enough hours in the day for everything I want to accomplish.
And when I’m feeling stressed, I don’t tend to cook very interesting things. Meals are reduced to a formula: Big vegetable, medium protein, small carb. Shuffle those cards again for the next meal. Bonus points for cooking enough to last for three days.
Finally, after a very long week, I got my tuckus down to the farmer’s market on Saturday morning (and let me clarify that by morning I mean noon) for some hard core therapy. I guess you could call it retail therapy, but with vegetables instead of shoes.
The sun came out and did magical things to piles of bumpy winter squash and peppers and sweet corn and potatoes. The heirloom tomatoes beckoned, then sort of jumped into my bag: one pear-shaped red one with a dark green bump on top, a craggy orange one, an oblong yellow one like a big fat thumb, and a red, perfectly round tomato the size of a baseball. And there were zucchini the size of those little baseball bats the bad boys used to keep in their cars.
Somehow, by the time I hauled my precious loot to the car, I had regained some perspective. I was breathing a little more deeply, maybe even smiling.
The end of summer is a time of bounty at the farmer’s market, when the tastes of summer mingle with the flavors of fall. The ripe produce needs little more than a nudge to become a warm, comforting meal.
This layered casserole does justice to the simple, earthy flavors of fall. The onions and tomatoes provide sweetness, the zucchini slumps softly, and the potatoes soak up all of the juices but remain pleasantly chewy. The flavors marry, but retain their own identities in spite of the union.
End of Summer Casserole
(adapted from Whole Living magazine)
- 3 tbsp olive oil, divided
- 1 medium onion, thinly sliced
- 3-4 medium tomatoes, sliced ¼ inch thick
- 1 medium zucchini, sliced ¼ inch thick
- 2 medium potatoes, sliced ¼ inch thick
- 2 tsp thyme
- salt and pepper
- 4 tbsp grated pecorino cheese
Heat oven to 375 Fahrenheit. Heat 2 tbsp oil over medium heat and sauté onion until soft and golden, about 10 minutes. Spread the onions on the bottom of a 9×13 baking dish. Overlap tomatoes, potatoes, and zucchini in two layers on top of onions. Sprinkle with thyme, salt, pepper and pecorino, drizzle with remaining tbsp of olive oil. Bake covered for 30 minutes. Uncover and bake until golden, about 40 minutes more.